In Tasmania, two remarkable Aussie gardeners are tending to more than just plants. Meet Max Heerey and Chris Hills, the green-thumbed heroes helping end homelessness, one garden at a time. 

Max Heery from Mowing Tasmania, and real estate agent, Chris Hills, have witnessed the impact of the housing crisis first-hand and are using their skills to offer gardening support for social housing residents. 

“We've had a huge rental crisis over the last few years,” says Chris.  

“There were a lot of people who weren't able to afford to pay rent and experienced couch surfing with no fixed address or living with family members... It sounds like it's much the same all over Australia at the moment.” 

For people struggling to make ends meet, tending to a garden can be overwhelming but without maintenance, an overgrown garden can put people at risk of eviction and homelessness. 

Lending a helping hand

After a career in finance, Max Heerey followed his passion for working outdoors and started his own business, Mowing Tasmania.

As his business grew, he saw how many people were facing eviction notices because of their overgrown gardens. For those who are unable to afford it, Max wanted to lend a helping hand and began mowing lawns for free every Friday.

Gardeners making difference

Photo Credit: ABC News / Maren Preuss 

When one local lost her job as a cleaner after 40 years, her garden had become unmanageable. Max's assistance not only brought relief, but also restored hope. 

“There are endless ways to contribute. Never underestimate the impact of small gestures,” says Max.  

Mowing Australia has now partnered with Mission Australia to help tenants at risk of eviction. 

 Gardeners making difference - before after

Chris Hills, a real estate agent for 17 years, has seen the impact of the housing crisis first-hand. 

“The average person who's renting through social housing, a lot of those people would not want to be in that position,” says Chris. “A lot of those people haven't got family support. So, they don't speak to anyone about the challenges they face.” 

Chris volunteers his services to Mission Australia, helping spread a little kindness and joy to people in need. 

“If I spend a day in the garden helping someone, many people will open up to me,” says Chris.  

“I'll go in and do the heavy extreme garden makeover stuff, to get it back to a level where hopefully someone can manage it going forward.”  

Don't judge people, just be kind. You can somehow make a difference just by smiling at someone.” 

The Tool Library 

Alongside the Clarendon Vale Neighbourhood Centre and Community Shed, Mission Australia launched ‘The Tool Library’, providing community members across Hobart and Clarence Plains with access to a range of power and hand tools for loan.  

Once gardens are brought back to a manageable state, tenants are encouraged to join the Mission Australia Tool Library, offering affordable access to tools needed for regular upkeep. 

Working in conjunction with workshops provided by Mission Australia Housing, the library supports people without tools, helping them maintain their tenancies and thrive. The initiative has helped foster community spirit and build skills and capacity to enable people to attend to their homes and gardens, also providing an opportunity for neighbours to help each other. 

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